Trainer Tony Pike doesn't have to think too far back to find a reason Loire can turn the tables on Jennifer Eccles in the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham tomorrow.

In fact, two weeks will do it nicely.

That was when Pike caused a minor upset with Sherwood Forest in the $1 million Vodafone Derby at Ellerslie.

The big lump of a horse outstayed Dragon Leap who had thrashed him two weeks before that.


Dragon Leap had been too brilliant over 2100m but the step up to 2400m was beyond him and the better stayer won. Pike hopes history repeats tomorrow.

Not that the class gap between Loire and Jennifer Eccles has been that big for much of the season. It has just looked huge in their last two clashes.

At both Te Rapa two starts ago and Hastings in the Lowland Stakes last start Jennifer Eccles has left Loire and Showbeel flat footed when she sprinted, winning like a special filly.

After Hastings the Oaks looked hers to lose but that has been tempered by her drawing barrier 19 and Pike is certain Loire will be a better filly tomorrow for a number of reasons.

"I think the big track suits her better," he offers.

"When she won the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in November and again when she came from behind Jennifer Eccles to beat her at Trentham in January she took a while to get warmed up.

"The mistake I made was being too easy on her after that Trentham run and having her underdone for Te Rapa and probably still on the way back up for Hastings. But looking at her this week I think she is right back to where she needs to be."

And Pike has always thought the 2400m of the Oaks would suit Loire, having set her for the race the day after winning the 1000 Guineas.


"I think it is a lot like the Sherwood Forest situation two weeks ago when the best stayer won the Derby.

"But whereas he was definitely not as brilliant as Dragon Leap and had to outstay him, I actually don't think there is much of a speed difference between Loire and Jennifer Eccles, they just use it differently."

The Oaks is anything but a two-filly race but Loire and Jennifer Eccles are racing for something their rivals are not.

Jennifer Eccles looked as good as home in the Filly of the Year race after Hastings and is 10 points clear but there are 12 points for winning tomorrow so if Loire can turn the tables and Jennifer Eccles was unplaced then Loire can steal the title back in the last race.

Pike has a real liking for his juvenile Sacred Command at Trentham tomorrow

But he says he will need to be sharp to beat the Jenna Mahoney-trained Opalescence.

"But this is a horse I am considering taking to Brisbane in the winter for the J J Atkins so he will go well this weekend." The Cambridge trainer is hunting his third Group 1 win in as many weekends in the Oaks tomorrow and the one who gave him the second of those, The Bostonian, clashes next Saturday with Te Akau Shark.

The Bostonian won the Canterbury Stakes fresh up last Saturday and will step up from 1300m to 1500m to take on The Shark next week.

"The distance will suit and while The Shark will be hard to beat, the race suits and it also works in perfectly for the All Aged Stakes three weeks later," Pike said.